Money advice for deaf people goes digital

On Tuesday 19th May 2015, UK charity deafPLUS launches a new national video helpline service for deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users and available through www.deafplus.org.

The deafPLUS BSL Money Advice Helpline will enable deaf people to get ‘face to face’ money and debt advice in the language of their choice: BSL.  Access will be available regardless of where they are in the country, using video apps such as FaceTime and Skype, which are already popular among the deaf community.

This cutting-edge new digital service is the first of its kind in the UK and will enable deaf BSL-users to better tackle their debts and improve their financial health. The service will be delivered for half a day each Monday to Friday via a series of 30 minute appointments that can be booked online in advance.

The helpline hours will be:

  • Monday: 10am – 2pm
  • Tuesday: 10am – 2pm
  • Wednesday: 1 – 5pm
  • Thursday: 1 – 5pm
  • Friday: 10 – 11.30am

deafPLUS CEO, Gary Williams says: “This service opens  financial advice and support up to a section of the community most in need of it.  Being deaf can be very isolating, and conventional online debt advice services aren’t always accessible as many deaf BSL users have poor English skills, leaving school with an average reading age of 9. This pioneering new service allows deaf BSL users to access financial advice and support in their own language, in a way that’s most familiar and easy for them to use.”

Support for the project has come from the Money Advice Trust’s Innovation Grants Programme. Jane Tully from the Money Advice Trust said

“We are delighted to have been able to support deafPLUS to launch this valuable and much-needed service. The Money Advice Trust aims to make free debt advice accessible across the UK for everyone who needs it, and our Innovation Grants Programme focusses on ways of delivering debt advice for those who may not be able to access existing support for whatever reason.

“We have every confidence that the new BSL Money Advice Helpline will prove successful in providing high-quality advice for members of the deaf community and will be a fantastic addition in helping us extend the reach of free debt advice services.”

What the helpline aims to provide

  • Confidential video sessions of up to 30 minutes each, with the adviser enabling deaf people to tackle their debts and improve their financial health.
  • Support to improve their economic circumstances such as debt management, as well as provide advice on welfare benefits to improve their economic wellbeing.
  • Assistance – including performing a benefits check – identifying to which additional benefits the client is entitled. Information on in-work benefits such as tax credits will be given.
  • For debt issues, we will develop a money management budget and provide guidance to increase financial inclusion. We will empower clients to manage arrears by calling or writing to creditors to agree a payment plan.

As well as encouraging deaf individuals to access the helpline directly, we also hope and expect our partner organisations within the Advice UK network to make use of the service when a deaf BSL user presents at their offices.

deafPLUS is a national charity supporting adults who are deaf or living with hearing loss by combating isolation, challenging discrimination, promoting independence and raising awareness of issues affecting its service users. Last year alone, deafPLUS helped 4,500 clients to overcome the barriers they encounter in their everyday lives.